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If the Playoffs Started Today – NBA Week 22

Heat vs Spurs: Week 22's prediction for the NBA Finals

The playoffs are really starting to come into the picture with a week left in the season. Five of six divisions and the Eastern Conference are locked up. 15 of 16 teams have punched their tickets, leaving the Lakers and Jazz in a dogfight for the final spot, though Dallas is still holding out hope. Other than that, there’s still plenty of time left to decide on the final standings and first round match-ups. With teams now deciding whether to rest players or make one last push for a better seed, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30pm:

West

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #8 Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are just half a game ahead of the Jazz (one less loss in a game-in-hand). The Spurs are in the same position trying to hold off OKC for #1. Slipping a spot won’t hurt the Spurs as much as the Lakers, at least not until the conference finals. That could still be a big problem for the Lakers if they have to use up their tricks just getting into the postseason, while San Antonio still has some to spare.

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #7 Houston Rockets

Houston is making a push for #6, but the Thunder are salivating even more at the possibility of becoming #1. Between the talent OKC has and their home-court advantage, Houston will have plenty of difficulties.

#3 Denver Nuggets vs #6 Golden State Warriors

Denver continues to be fantastic at home, but they still have to be careful of Memphis, lurking half a game behind. Regardless, that home-court advantage will serve them well in the first round, despite Golden State‘s recent efforts to stabilize themselves.

#5 Memphis Grizzlies vs #4 Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have won their division, but seem fairly resigned to the #4 spot with Denver and Memphis one-upping them on either side. LA has shown great stretches throughout the year, but don’t quite have the momentum that teams like Memphis have.

East

#1 Miami Heat vs #8 Milwaukee Bucks

Heat over Bucks, naturally. Assuming Miami is healthy for the series, that is.

#2 New York Knicks vs #7 Boston Celtics

Divisional series are always fun, but with the Knicks winners of 13 straight and the Celtics fumbling as they are, the Knicks look to come out on top without maximum effort.

#3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Atlanta Hawks

Indiana is going to get to 50 wins with one more victory, while Atlanta is backing into the postseason with three straight losses. That is the wrong formula for a Hawks team that has had its ups and downs all season.

#4 Brooklyn Nets vs #5 Chicago Bulls

Chicago lost their last two, but were 6-2 before that. Brooklyn is three games ahead of Chicago, pretty well lodged in there at #4. That lets Brooklyn tweak things as they see fit ahead of next week. Even on the slight chance that Derrick Rose returns for the postseason, he’s certain to be rusty for such a high-pressure situation.

Predicted Final Standings:

East #1 Heat
#2 Knicks
#3 Pacers
#4 Nets
#5 Bulls
#6 Hawks
#7 Celtics
#8 Bucks
West #1 Thunder
#2 Spurs
#3 Nuggets
#4 Clippers
#5 Grizzlies
#6 Rockets
#7 Warriors
#8 Jazz

Predicted First Round Results:

East
Heat def Bucks Knicks def Celtics Pacers def Hawks Nets def Bulls
West
Thunder def Jazz Spurs def Warriors Nuggets def Rockets Clippers def Grizzlies

Predicted Second Round Results:

East
Heat def Nets Knicks def Pacers
West
Thunder def Grizzlies Spurs def Nuggets

Predicted Third Round Results:

East
Heat def Knicks
West
Thunder def Spurs

Predicted Finals Results:

Heat def Thunder

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